Lobstah, lobstah, lobstah!
It wasn’t fine dining, certainly didn’t equal the meal we might have had if we kept our dinner reservation at Primo but it was darn good anyway! Take out at the nearby Mount Battie Take Out & Ice Cream stand. Even though it was just down (and across) the street from Camden State Park, we probably would never have stopped here, but it was recommended to us by a local woman (Christine) we had talked to during happy hour at the 40 Paper Restaurant. What the heck, let’s give it a try – no matter what we ordered here it would be a lot cheaper than our meals at Primo!
Since it was late afternoon by the time we were done with our sightseeing and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we ordered a fried clam basket ($14.99) and onion rings ($3.99) which would be our lunch and two lobster rolls ($12.99 each) to have for supper later. The clams were excellent, lightly battered, sweet and quite tender as were the onion rings. And the lobster rolls – OMG, believe it or not, these were so much better than the award winning ones we had at the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. The lobster in both tasted fresh and tender, but these had so much more lobster meat! And so much less expensive, in fact $5 per roll cheaper ($12.99 vs. $17.95)! Chock full of lobster with at least six whole lobster claws on top plus chopped tail meat, all with just a hint of mayo. Yummy! Absolutely delicious!
Breakfast in Rockland
Thursday, June 18th, was our last full day in Camden. Another sunny day so more sightseeing was on our agenda. You can’t be called a true “tourista” in Maine without visiting at least one or two lighthouses (there are 60+ in Maine) so today’s itinerary called for not only a trip to Owl’s Head Lighthouse and the Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light.
But the first order of business was breakfast (you probably already figured that out). Rob found a place in Rockland, Maine that had good reviews – the Home Kitchen Cafe.
Not only did it have good reviews, it also was voted the 2014 Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice “Best Breakfast in New England” and had been featured on one of our favorite local Boston TV shows, Chronicle which showcases New England attractions, towns, restaurants and other interesting stories. The restaurant is famous for their cinnamon buns – the Sinny, which is just glazed, or the Sticky, which has pecans. Wish we could tell you how they were but we didn’t try any.
Lots of good stuff on the menu. We had hoped it lived up to our expectations and we weren’t disappointed. Bet you can guess what Rob had – yep, the Home on the Range, aka two poached eggs on corned beef hash with home made toast. Interesting that instead of home made toast you could substitute polenta which we’ve never seen offered on a breakfast menu before. Guess it could be considered similar to grits. To be different, instead of my usual bacon and eggs, I had one of their specials – two fish cakes with scrambled eggs, home fries and home made toast. Oh, my, sooo good – tasted more like crab cakes than fish cakes! Even had leftovers! Definitely would go back here again!
After breakfast, we parked on the street in downtown Rockland so we could take a walk through the town. Cute town with a lot of boutiques, restaurants, art galleries as well as a number of museums – the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Sail, Power and Steam Museum, and the Maine Lighthouse Museum. Whew, a lot to do here but alas, it was too pretty a day to spend inside a museum! We had no desire to deviate from our original plans. Another time. Instead we drove over to Sandy Beach Park and walked along the waterfront. Nice walk with perfect views of the harbor, the breakwater and lighthouse from that vantage point.
Owl’s Head Lighthouse
After leaving the town, we headed to the Owl’s Head Lighthouse about a 20 minute drive, passing by fields of purple and pink lupines in full bloom and several picturesque little fishing villages, complete with lobster pots and displays of colorful lobster buoys.
Arriving at Owl’s Head State Park, we parked our car in the parking lot near the picnic area and headed down the trail towards the lighthouse. Much of the view of the water was obscured by the trees but we did occasionally have a panoramic view of the water.
As we walked past the 1854 keeper’s house, we finally had a glimpse of the lighthouse standing like a sentinel atop a cliff that is seventy feet high at the entrance of Rockland Harbor in Penobscot Bay. It is not open for tours but you can climb the 53 steps to reach the base of the lighthouse where there are sweeping views of Penobscot Bay.
Interestingly the lighthouse, constructed of granite and brick, is only 30 feet tall, so it is relatively small compared to other lighthouses, however since it is built upon a 70 foot tall rock promontory, the lighthouse is effectively 100 feet tall.
Because of the growing lime trade in nearby Rockland and Thomaston, President John Quincy Adams ordered the construction of the lighthouse in 1825. Initially it was installed with Winslow Lewis Lamps and Reflectors, but in 1856 it was upgraded and installed with a fourth order Fresnel lens, one of the six still in service in Maine today. It was automated in 1989. Amazing that the fixed light has a range of over 16 miles.
Lots of tales surrounding the lighthouse. One of particular interest was the story of Spot, the English Springer Spaniel in the 1930’s. Each time a vessel approached, Spot would grab hold of the fog bell’s rope with his teeth and pull it. The vessels would then answer Spot with a whistle’s salute. One night, during inclement weather, the Matinicus mailboat almost ran aground at Owl’s Head. The captain of the vessel heard Spot’s warning just in time and steered clear of the rocks. Spot now rests in peace near the former location of the fog bell.
According to the Camden Maine Vacation website, “the locals also love to share the story of the “Frozen Couple of Owl’s Head.” A bad storm hit the area in December of 1850. A small schooner from Massachusetts was anchored at Jameson’s Point with three people on board: the mate, Richard B. Ingraham; seaman Roger Elliott; and Lydia Dyer, Ingraham’s fiancée. Strong gales snapped the schooner’s cables and the vessel ran aground just south of the lighthouse. Elliott left the vessel and climbed to shore to find help. The keeper just happened to be passing by in his sleigh, saw Elliott, and brought him back to the house. Though Elliott could barely talk, he told the keeper of his two shipmates. The keeper rousted a rescue party and headed for the wreck. When they got there, legend has it that they found a block of ice enveloping Ingraham and Dyer. The couple appeared to be dead, but the rescuers brought the block of ice back to the house. They chipped the ice away, keeping the couple in cold water, and then slowly raised the temperature of the water, while massaging and maneuvering the couple’s extremities. After two hours of this, the couple woke up and asked where they were. Elliott never fully recovered, but the couple whose lives he saved hailed him as a hero, and his heroism lives on in maritime lore.”
Wow, that’s quite a tale! I wonder how true it is. If it is, fascinating that they knew enough to “thaw” the couple out.
Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse
Leaving Owls Head, we drove back towards Rt. 1, heading towards Rockland. As mentioned in a previous post, before we became RV’ers, we had visited Maine on a pretty regular basis, staying a few times at the lovely Samoset Resort (highly recommended BTW) in Rockport. You can’t stay there without walking out on the almost one mile long breakwater to see the lighthouse. So been there, done that but we just had to do it again!
To get to the breakwater, take a right from Route 1 onto Waldo Ave (following the Samoset Resort signs), then take a right onto Samoset Road. If you are not staying at the Inn, there is limited parking available along the road, just a short walk from the breakwater.
As we started our trek along the breakwater, we remembered our first trip here. Initially it doesn’t look that far to the lighthouse but despite how far we walked, it never seemed to get any closer. That hadn’t changed. Although the granite blocks were quite flat, you had to be careful and watch where you were walking to avoid tripping on any crevasses and jagged edges in the rock. We both had stiff necks from looking down the entire way.
Here’s a bit of fascinating history….
The first light here in Rockland Harbor was an oil lamp placed in 1827 on a wooden tripod on Jameson Point, at the north end of the current breakwater. Hard to imagine that the .8 mile (4300 feet) long and 20 foot wide jetty was built between 1881 and 1899. Each time we’ve walked out on the jetty, we’ve wondered how they managed to place the granite blocks weighing from 1/4 ton to over 2 1/4 tons into the water without all the modern machinery that we have today? From what I’ve read, the granite, came from local quarries and was brought to the site on ships and moved about by virtue of stout cranes. Obviously a slow process moving 732,277 tons of granite, taking over 18 years to complete at a cost of $750,000!
Once the jetty was complete, the lighthouse was built in 1902. For many years there were light keepers, but in 1965 it was automated. The Coast Guard announced their plans to remove the lighthouse but the city objected vehemently and the Samoset Resort assumed care of the building in 1989. The lighthouse was transferred to the City of Rockland in 1998 who then leased the lighthouse to the Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights in 2001. This group of volunteers have completed a full restoration of the station, opened an on-site gift shop and have established an endowment program. Thanks to them the lighthouse will be cared for in perpetuity. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
On our way back to the State Park
We drove through the cute town of Rockport (why they have the two towns Rockland and Rockport right next to each other is puzzling and confusing to us tourists). And stopped at the State of Maine Cheese Company which has been handcrafting fine cheeses since 1983. Unfortunately it was late in the day so the cheesemaker wasn’t making any cheese but despite that, after trying some samples, we bought some Katahdin cheddar cheese which is locally made.
As we passed by the Mount Battie Take Out & Ice Cream stand, something lured us to stop to pick up two more lobster rolls. Yum, just as delicious as the first ones! The perfect end to a perfect day! Highly recommend a stop here if you are in the area.